Just want a target

Draft of 2008.12.29 ☛ 2015.07.01

May include: business&c.

Why is it that marketing drives people to deface community wikis? To spend their time and attention writing bots to infest Twitter and Facebook and social media generally with artificial “friends”? To hire Indian folks to call me during dinner and pretend to be “Gertrude” or “Molly”? To do that often enough that there is a law against it now, a Do Not Call Registry? To eat 30% of my television time, splattering multiple channels with thousands of copies of the same stupid air-freshener ad every night? What makes engineering professors set up spam blogs full of Markov gibberish to try to game their professional organization’s Google pagerank? Why do algorithms compose and send out the majority of all emails actually sent in the world?

Think about it. I’ll be you are disturbed by or even hate those things, every time they happen to you. Even if you’re one of the people in the marketing business.

Advertising can be subtle, and beautiful. It can be a conversation, a thoughtful image. It can be pleasant, sought-after, a testimonial to the product. It can be polite, opt-in, and complementary.

What makes this other lifestyle viable, the one that we hate? What economic or cultural norm, what law, what incentive exists to make it feasible for otherwise decent human beings to consider costs and benefits and opt to act that way?

That thing, whatever it is, is our enemy.

With few exceptions, I note that it isn’t human beings who are being marketed. It doesn’t seem to be people with names who have ads, spam, phone calls—as long as we count celebrities as non-people (or meta-people). As brands, say.

Maybe that’s a clue.